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The Read & React: size matters

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The Celtics laid an egg in Sacramento in their worst game of the season.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

This is a problem (Bill Sy): Yes, the Celtics played with little energy. Yes, they were playing three hours later on the west coast after a lengthy layoff. Yes, they were coming off a Paul Pierce/Super Bowl hangover. Yes, this was a trap game with the Kings playing without the suspended DeMarcus Cousins and injured Rudy Gay.

And yes, Boston is a small team.

For the 33-19 Celtics, that hasn’t been a big problem (pun intended). That isn’t more evident than in Isaiah Thomas’ MVP season, but there are times when size is an issue. One of the ways the Celtics have been able to overcome their size deficiency is ball movement and to a lesser degree, speed. However, teams have been able to short circuit Brad Stevens’ motion offense by putting longer defenders on Thomas and/or overplaying passing lanes. Here’s a good example from last night:

And these are the Kings. This is why the Celtics have such a tough time against Toronto and Cleveland (and to some extent, their bad losses to Denver and last night to Sacramento). With bigger defenders at almost every position, they can just jam up the read-and-react and force Boston to go one-on-one. In the playoffs when games tend to be more half court oriented, that’s going to be an even bigger problem.